Using an Inside Voice

These weird sentences recently landed in my inbox:

  • Pasta became a staple of Italian fare after Roman Emperor Caligula famously appointed a plate of lasagna to the Senate.
  • The shoulders carry much of the body's tension, as well as the body's finite supply of shrugs.
  • Virtually nothing can defeat the raw power of rock music, with the possible exception of paper music.

The source of these absurdities is Groupon's daily deal e-mails (for a restaurant, a massage therapist and a concert, respectively), and this jocular tone is part and parcel of every e-mail Groupon sends. Internally, the company calls it "The Voice."

In many ways, The Voice is good marketing. It's surprising and distinctive. Fans of the writing are more likely to read the deals and to share them with friends.

On the other hand, many people aren't fans. They find The Voice pretentious and distracting. It gets in the way of what they really care about: namely, whether today's deal is worth buying.

As a writer, I'm predisposed to admire Groupon's choice to make a distinctive writing style a focus of their brand, but the detractors have a good point. The Voice can be so busy calling attention to itself that it forgets to speak to customers.